Posted by: pyeager | October 21, 2011

2011-2012 NOAA Winter Forecast

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

city winter scene

I’ve never been a big fan of probabilty outlooks rather than specific forecasts, which is what NOAA does, but they know much more about long-range forecasting than I do. And with that in mind, here’s a link to the NOAA 2011-2012 Winter Outlook. Also, feel free to check out my Huffington Post blog on the topic.

La Nina is one factor highlighted, of course, but they also discussed the Arctic Oscillation, which had a dramatic impact on the weather during each of the last two winters.

The forecast highlights include:

  • the likely continuation of the drought in the Southern Plains, along with drier-than-average weather across all of the Deep South
  • the likelihood of wet and cool weather in the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains
  • the likelihood of colder-than-average weather in the northern Plains
  • the potential for more storms than average in the Midwest
  • uncertainty in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions

That uncertainty, which is indicated by equal chances of temperatures and precipitation being above or below average, is what I mean when I talk about not being a fan of probabilitic forecasting schemes. The forecast sounds like–and basically is–a flip of the coin.

I understand that weather phenomena such as the Arctic Oscillation will have a major impact on the weather and cannot be predicted months in advance, but take a shot about whether you think they’ll happen and make a forecast…not just a coin toss.

(Image courtesy of Theonlysilentbob)


  1. hello paul..long time; love your site..ok i would say only half the winter from last yr. in mid atlantic & northeast…jus’t a good guess! umm..i wonder why? stay cool my friend. later frank D.

    • Hi Frank. Good to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and your family, and I’ll have to check out the weather site that your name is linked to.


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